Root cause analysis case interview for Product Management Role

Mon May 1, 2023

How to solve Root cause analysis question?

RCA is very common nowadays for Product Management interviews.

Before we know how to solve RCA problems, we should first know what is it? why this question is being asked at first place? 

RCA( Root Cause Analysis) is a type of question which are asked in a PM interview in order to know the root cause of a problem incurred in a Product.

It let interviewer know the core skillsets they are looking for in a candidate for a Product Management role. These skillsets are Problem-solving, Product sense, Structural thinking, and Communication. These skills are very important to be a Product manager this RCA problem helps the interviewer to know if you have it or not.

Now what kind of RCA questions can be asked?

Root-cause analysis generally starts with a problem statement like

1. " There is a decrease in installation of a banking app", as a product manager of the app let what do you think could be the reason for this?

2. Order cancellation on Amazon is up by 20%. The order cancellation window is 24 hours. Can you help us diagnose the issue?

3. Transaction on Paytm has dropped by 30%. What could be the cause?

Any of the above RCA problems can be solved using a simple structural process.

Lets understand this by solving this Problem Statement: " Transaction on Phonepe has dropped by 30%. What could be the cause?"

1. Validation of the Problem Statement:

a. What analytics app have we used? Is it working properly?

b. Was there any specific set of users the drop was observed with?

c. What kind of transactions have dropped, is it specific like Bill Payments, Recharges, FastTag etc?

2. Clarification Questions

a. What does a transaction mean? Are we talking Peer to peer, or To businesses?

b. Who are the users?

c. Is the drop-off found in a specific demographic of users?

d. Is it found in a specific mode of payment? UPI or Net-banking etc.

e. Time Details: Was it a sudden drop? Was it a gradual drop?

f. Seasonality: Have we seen similar trends in the past? Is it recurring?

And many more…

3. What are internal factors which can be the cause?

a. Have there been any internal policy changes? Ex. Extra charges on transactions?

b. Has there been any customer acquisition boosts in the past? (This helps to know if the wrong target audience was acquired)

c. Are there any updates in the version?

d. Have there been any updates in the UI/UX of the app?

4. External Factors which can be the cause?

a. Are there any Government regulatory changes?

b. Have our competitors like GPay or Amazon Pay launched any new campaigns?

c. Has the competitor offered monetary benefits to our user?

d. Is there a new competitor in the market?

e. Is there any backlash on the Press or social media?

One of the essential things to remember during RCA interviews is to showcase structured thinking, problem-solving, communication, and product sense skills. Candidates should ask relevant questions to validate the problem statement and identify the root cause of the problem.

There are no right answers and no fixed answers to any questions. the Interviewer is looking at your approach to solve the problem.

I hope this will be helpful to you, if you want to prepare for Product Management role by Microsoft, Adobe and Accenture Product Managers you can join our latest cohort batch.


Senior Product Manager at Microsoft

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